Pastor Bruce Wesley of the multi-campus Clear Creek Community Church in Texas, which recently made headlines as some 125 youth and adults got infected with what officials suspect is the COVID-19 Delta variant after attending a church-sponsored student ministry camp, publicly prayed for God’s “mercy” as his church was forced to shutter for a second week.
“Lord, we didn’t want to be in the news, at least not for this, maybe for serving or some extreme generosity, but not this," Wesley prayed in an online message delivered to his congregants.
"So we ask for your mercy. We ask for your healing for all of those who became sick with this virus and for their families who’ve been caring for them as well. We pray for complete recovery so that people don’t have any lingering effects, and we pray that there would be a stop, you would put a stop to the spread of this virus."
Wesley did not share how many more people are now infected with the virus. But the church revealed in a statement last Wednesday that the congregation is facing a “second wave” of infections among the families of the infected campers.
“The number of people at camp who became ill has increased since my first communication. In some cases, entire families are sick. While some have had difficult symptoms, we are not aware of any hospitalizations," he said in the Wednesday statement after announcing further service cancellations.
“Clear Creek Community Church will cancel services again on Sunday, July 11, and Wednesday, July 14 at all campuses. In addition, there will be no Revive and Restore Forum on July 11. Other gatherings for the week have been canceled or postponed."
More than 450 people participated in the camp designed for middle school and high school-aged kids. In a letter to congregants, Wesley previously explained that in consultation with the Galveston County Health District, the church canceled services for July 4 and again on July 7. They hoped to reopen for in-person services this past Sunday, but the virus cases were too many.
“Our pastor, staff and volunteers, have contacted all of the 450 plus campers by phone or email this last week and we’ve receive a report on how everyone is doing,” the church said in the statement.
On Sunday, Wesley prayed for all the families that have been impacted by the virus outbreak.
“We ask also Lord for those whose lives were impacted by this virus. I know for some it’s been a financial impact. We pray you provide for them,” he said.
He noted that some members had to rearrange their lives because of the mass infections, including those forced to miss a mission trip to the Dominican Republic or their planned vacation.
“We just ask Lord that our whole community will be comforted by your presence, rest in your goodness in spite of this outbreak,” he prayed.
Wesley also prayed for wisdom for churches taking their kids to camp this summer.
Inci Yildirim, a Yale Medicine pediatric infectious diseases specialist and vaccinologist, said in a recent report that the Delta variant of COVID-19 has been shown to spread more among the younger population.
“A recent study from the United Kingdom showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with Delta,” Yildirim told Yale Medicine.
“As older age groups get vaccinated, those who are younger and unvaccinated will be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 with any variant, but Delta seems to be impacting younger age groups more than previous variants,” she added.
Dr. Phillip Keiser, Galveston County Health District Authority, told KHOU that because of how rapidly the virus has spread among the campers, they suspect it might be the Delta variant.
“We’re testing it for the Delta variant to see if that’s the cause for it spreading so rapidly among that group,” Keiser said.